- Annie Ivanova argues that Taiwan has emerged as a top design hub, after many decades of operating as contract manufacturer to the world.
- Accenture has acquired yet another design firm: this time it's the industrial design firm MATTER. This is less than a year after acquiring the Boston-based design shop Altitude. Long time readers of this newsletter will know we're a bit skeptical of mega-business consultancies scooping up design team after design team in a way that proves valuable and sustainable for both parties.
- Batteries have long been a fixture of technological utopian dreams, but even as we boost their performance and capacity with material science breakthroughs, our collective hunger for ever more energy keeps us tied to the rooted infrastructure of the electric grid. Historian Nathan Kapoor looks at batteries past and how we might reconsider the broader systems that surround the technology to truly unlock their transformative potential.
- Today's biggest battery booster is undeniably Elon Musk, and his company Tesla made headlines last week for increasing (via over-the-air update) the effective range of cars that were fleeing regions of the U.S. soon to be wrecked by hurricanes and flooding. While it was more of an unlocking of an available upgrade than a physics magic trick, it's an interesting case to look at in terms adapting technology to suit the circumstances in real time.
- It's an all too common story in the development and deploying of technology: people of color are left out of the research stage, and the resulting products fail them in one way or another. It's happened with color film, it's happened with wearable devices, it's happened with facial recognition software. So when an artist or inventor is aware of those traps and develops techniques to overcome them, the results can be stunning in their richness. In this case it's cinematographer Ava Berkofsky, talking to Mic about how the right lighting practices and optical treatments give black actors the full on-screen dimensionality that white actors have enjoyed for many decades.
- Movie studios that have had a lackluster summer are at least partly blaming poor sales on the effect of review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. While it's obviously an overreach to say such a site undeservedly dooms perfectly fine films, there is something to be said about the ripple effect of other people's opinions. Why we like what we do emerges from a mélange of factors, only some of which is reflective of our "authentic" desires. Almost certainly, the quick access we have to masses of other opinions is fundamentally changing how we encounter, enjoy, and dismiss everything from works of art to brunch spots.
- (PDF) A fascinating investigation into the weird world of fake storefronts, Alibaba, and "free" watches. It's a sort of material vortex created from some entrepreneurial lark, with goods produced in the most aggressively cheap way possible, and marketed with every SEO and branding trick in the book, all resulting in a glut of barely functional watches that need to be offloaded one way or another. The watch is a model of our global ouroboros of consumption and creation, where it can be difficult to tell where demand ends and fraudulent hype begins.